Butler Memorial Sanctuary is a 363-acre tract located in Westchester County. It is adjacent to I-684, and the noise of the traffic can be heard for part of the hike. However, for the most part, the trails lead through quiet, secluded areas, with unusual geologic formations and numerous stone walls. For its entire length, this hike follows the red-blazed Butler Trail, which loops around the...
Butler Memorial Sanctuary is a 363-acre tract located in Westchester County. It is adjacent to I-684, and the noise of the traffic can be heard for part of the hike. However, for the most part, the trails lead through quiet, secluded areas, with unusual geologic formations and numerous stone walls. For its entire length, this hike follows the red-blazed Butler Trail, which loops around the sanctuary, in the counter-clockwise direction.
From the northern end of the parking area, follow the red-blazed Butler Trail into the woods. Soon, the yellow-blazed Hawk Watch Loop lbegins on the left and the orange-triangle-blazed Fern Trail begins on the right, but you should continue ahead on the red-blazed Butler Trail. After passing through an evergreen forest, the blue-blazed Long Trail briefly joins, and a white-blazed trail goes off to the left. Again, continue to follow the red-blazed Butler Trail.
About 0.6 mile from the start, at the base of a descent, the blue-blazed Long Trail crosses. In another quarter mile, you'll pass the northern end of the Long Trail on the left, and then the northern end of the orange-triangle-blazed Fern Trail on the right. A short distance beyond, you'll notice a white triangle trail on the left. Turn left and follow this short trail, which leads to Sunset Ledge - a west-facing viewpoint. Now return to the Butler Trail and turn left to begin a steady descent. At the base of the descent, the trail turns left. Soon, you'll pass a large boulder on the right and enter a valley, with a boulder-strewn slope on the left and a stream on the right.
Soon, you'll reach a junction with the green-blazed Balancing Rock Trail, with begins on the left. Turn right and continue to follow the red-blazed Butler Trail, which parallels the stream, then turns right to cross it on rocks. It continues along the stream, which widens into a wetland, and climbs to a high point that overlooks the wetland below. The trail now bears left, recrosses the stream, and climbs slightly to reach a second junction with the green-blazed Balancing Rock Trail.
Turn right and continue along the red-blazed Butler Trail, which begins a steady climb. After leveling off at the crest of the rise, with a lake and waterfall visible below to the right, the trail descends, passing two stone foundations on the left. At the base of the descent, a white-blazed trail begins on the left. Continue to follow the Butler Trail, which climbs through sparse hemlocks to overlook an interesting wetland below on the left. It descends rather steeply, crosses the outlet of the wetland on rocks, then climbs gently on switchbacks. After descending slightly to cross the blue-blazed Long Trail and pass the end of a white-blazed trail on the left, the Butler Trail continues to climb.
Just beyond the highest point, the yellow-blazed Hawk Watch Trail joins from the left. Continue ahead on the joint Butler/Hawk Watch Trails, and in 75 feet you'll reach the Hawk Watch, with a wooden viewing platform and grandstand seating. The Hawk Watch offers a broad east-facing view and is a place to view migrating birds.
After taking in the view, continue along the joint Butler/Hawk Watch Trails, which head downhill, parallel to the fence along the cliffs above I-684, back to the parking area where the hike began.Publication: Submitted by Daniel Chazin on 03/26/2009 updated/verified on 12/02/2020
This loop hike circles the sanctuary, passing interesting rock formations, old stone walls and wetlands.
Whether you are going for a day hike or backpacking overnight, it is good practice to carry what we call The Hiking Essentials. These essentials will help you enjoy your outing more and will provide basic safety gear if needed. There may also be more essentials, depending on the season and your needs.
Hiking Shoes or Boots
Water - Two quarts per person is recommended in every season. Keep in mind that fluid loss is heightened in winter as well as summer. Don't put yourself in the position of having to end your hike early because you have run out of water.
Map - Know where you are and where you are going. Many of our hiking areas feature interconnecting network of trails. Use a waterproof/tear-resistant Tyvek Trail Conference map if available or enclose your map in a Ziplock plastic bag. If you have a mobile device, download Avenza’s free PDF Maps app and grab some GPS-enhanced Trail Conference maps (a backup Tyvek or paper version of the map is good to have just in case your batteries die or you don't have service). Check out some map-reading basics here.
Food - Snacks/lunch will keep you going as you burn energy walking or climbing. Nuts, seeds, and chocolate are favorites on the trail.
Sunscreen and insect repellent
Rain Gear and Extra Clothing - Rain happens. So does cold. Be prepared for changing weather. Avoid cotton--it traps water against your skin and is slow to dry. If you are wearing wet cotton and must return to your starting point, you risk getting chills that may lead to a dangerous hypothermia. Choose synthetic shirts, sweaters and/or vests and dress in layers for easy on and off.
Compass - A simple compass is all you need to orient you and your map to magnetic north.
Light - A flashlight or small, lightweight headlamp will be welcome gear if you find yourself still on the trail when darkness falls. Check the batteries before you start out and have extras in your pack.
First Aid Kit - Keep it simple, compact, and weatherproof. Know how to use the basic components.
Firestarter and Matches - In an emergency, you may need to keep yourself or someone else warm until help arrives. A firestarter (this could be as simple as leftover birthday candles that are kept inside a waterproof container) and matches (again, make sure to keep them in a waterproof container) could save a life.
Knife or Multi-tool - You may need to cut a piece of moleskin to put over a blister, repair a piece of broken equipment, or solve some other unexpected problem.
Emergency Numbers - Know the emergency numbers for the area you're going to and realize that in many locations--especially mountainous ones, your phone will not get reception.
Common Sense - Pay attention to your environment, your energy, and the condition of your companions. Has the weather turned rainy? Is daylight fading? Did you drink all your water? Did your companion fail to bring rain gear? Are you getting tired? Keep in mind that until you turn around you are (typically) only half-way to completing your hike--you must still get back to where you started from! (Exceptions are loop hikes.)
Check the weather forecast before you head out. Know the rules and regulations of the area.
The Leave No Trace Seven Principles
Plan Ahead and Prepare
- Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you'll visit.
- Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies.
- Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use.
- Visit in small groups when possible. Consider splitting larger groups into smaller groups.
- Repackage food to minimize waste.
- Use a map and compass to eliminate the use of marking paint, rock cairns or flagging.
Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
- Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow.
- Protect riparian areas by camping at least 200 feet from lakes and streams.
- Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary.
- In popular areas:
- Concentrate use on existing trails and campsites.
- Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy.
- Keep campsites small. Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent.
- In pristine areas:
- Disperse use to prevent the creation of campsites and trails.
- Avoid places where impacts are just beginning.
- Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food and litter.
- Deposit solid human waste in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches deep, at least 200 feet from water, camp and trails. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished.
- Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products.
- To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater.
- Preserve the past: examine, but do not touch cultural or historic structures and artifacts.
- Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them.
- Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.
- Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.
- Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the backcountry. Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for light.
- Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires.
- Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand.
- Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes.
- Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them.
- Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
- Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely.
- Control pets at all times, or leave them at home.
- Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter.
Be Considerate of Other Visitors
- Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.
- Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail.
- Step to the downhill side of the trail when encountering pack stock.
- Take breaks and camp away from trails and other visitors.
- Let nature's sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises.
The Trail Conference is a 2015 Leave No Trace partner.
(c) Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics: www.LNT.org.